After 70 years of rule and a long illness, King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on Thursday. He has witnessed 19 coup attempts and a multitude of electoral swings. Educated in Switzerland, the king was fond of arts and deeply interested in the welfare of his subjects, whom he supported through various Royal Projects. These are celebrated by various UN agencies, as Thailand has become a ‘development success‘ during his rule.
In remote areas, Royal Projects became a lifeline for peasants, whose livelihoods are threatened by deforestation, nature preservation, and increasingly monetized economy. But at the same time the projects left these people dependent, as I wrote here.
The government announced a year-long mourning, which will surely have an impact on tourism (some tips here). Reading local Twitter accounts, I learned that a lantern festival and a marathon have been cancelled, a museum and a hiking trail closed, and at least one red light district started closing up shop. Personally, I think that Thailand will only benefit if creepy sex tourists stop flowing to the country, leaving a niche for budding ethical tourism businesses. The nature, the amazing food and sights will still be there even if parties are not.